Release Date: 8/10/2012
Kevin Parker turns his self- loathing into a swirling and charming Psych- Pop epic
There are those who frown upon tunefulness in Psychedelia. There are those who, despite the ever present glorious shadow of "Revolver" or "Pet Sounds" believe that Psychedelia is best enjoyed when sat alone with a bottle of pills, a glass of whisky with which to wash it down and a vinyl compilation of the most head- screwing clunks and swirls from the late '60s. To be fair, they're not exactly wrong, because that's precisely the environment Psychedelia wanted to create for itself in the beginning. If you are still of such a mind- mashed persuasion when approaching Tame Impala's second full- length "Lonerism," then you should probably grab your Black Dice 12"s and head for a pink cave in Jordan, because this is perhaps the most tuneful dose of Psychedelia since Animal Collective's "Merriweather Post Pavilion."
Written and recorded almost exclusively by front man Kevin Parker, "Lonerism" is an album that very much believes in injecting, you know, REAL feelings into psychedelia than lyrics about hallucinations in which Panthers hunt Mammoths with sling shots (not that there's anything wrong with that either...). It's Parker's self- loathing and supposed social inadequacy that comes to the fore lyrically here, and thus it's the kind of album that if it didn't have glorious choruses and huge, head- spinning synthscapes to back it up then Parker could be heralded as the new Tom Waits. Thankfully though, it very much does.
The opener "Be Above It" is surprisingly sparse with its motorik shuffling beat woozy synth squelches, with Parker making the most of the rhythmic silent spaces in between. Already it's a more distinct record than 2010's "Innerspeaker," an album too concerned with guitar fuzz to get lodged in your brain. You could be forgiven for suspecting "Lonerism" of having the same problem due to the ridiculous amounts going on in some of these songs. Never does such a problem occur however.
"Apocalypse Dreams" starts off as a soulful ELO- esque '70s stomp before everything grows, twists and envelopes every aspect of the song and a gloriously layered synth wall reigns mightily halfway through. "Music To Walk Home By" is a sky- kissing mesh of bubbling electronics, a driving bass line and understated but reverb drenched guitar chords. Bearing all this in mind, it feels strange that the album's highlight, the astoundingly beautiful "Feels Like We're Only Going Backwards," propelled by a subtly funky bass rhythm and an almost moving chill- wavey keyboard melody is probably the most simplistic moment here.
The Beatles and The Beach Boys proved upon countless occasions that pop in Psychedelia, when done correctly, is an absolute masterstroke. That's not at all to say that "Lonerism" is up there with those paragons; there are moments, like the clunky, almost industrial "Elephant" or ineffective "Nothing That Has Happened So far In My Life We Could Control," that you may very well want to skip. But at it's absolute best "Lonerism" is catchy, epic and moving, and thus much more fulfilling than much of the head- clanging Psych we've heard so far this year.
Download: "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" "Music To Walk Home By" "Keep On Lying"